INSURED’S FAILURE TO ALLOW INSURER A REASONABLE OPPORTUNITY TO INSPECT THE LOSS BEFORE REPAIRS, PRECLUDES COVERAGE
Last Tuesday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted summary judgment in favor of a homeowners’ insurer after finding that the insured failed to provide reasonable access to the damaged property before replacing the roof. In Santacruz v. Allstate Texas Lloyds, Inc., 2013 WL 3196535 (N.D. Tex., June 25, 2013), the insured reportedly lost shingles due to a wind storm and had a tarp placed on the roof. The insured then reported a claim for wind and water damage. When the adjuster called to begin the investigation, the insured reported that she had a roofing contractor on site ready to replace the roof that day. The adjuster stated that they could not make it out that day but could in a couple of days. Two days later at the time of the inspection, the roof had already been replaced. Allstate denied coverage and this lawsuit followed.
Allstate filed a motion for summary judgment asserting in part that the insured failed to comply with their duties after loss and that by replacing the roof before the inspection, the insured violated the policy and deprived Allstate of the opportunity to investigate the loss. The court agreed and also found insufficient evidence that wind blew shingles off the roof, that plaintiff’s actions in replacing the roof made it impossible to investigate their claim and as a result, Allstate had a reasonable basis to deny the claim. And because the insured also failed to prove their right to recover and the amount of their covered damages, summary judgment was granted in favor of Allstate.